I hate to waste paint so, if I find I have some paint left over from a project, I smear it into a page in my art journal where it stays as a potential first layer for some future creating. One such page of leftovers was the basis for this week’s art journal page. It was created in response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt for this week: the letter O. I like vague prompts because they give me the nudge to create while giving me the scope to really do whatever I want. You may have noticed that I like to illustrate skeletons. They are never anatomically correct and I cannot really put my finger on why I am so drawn to them as a subject but I just go with it. Do what you enjoy, right? I, therefore, ended up illustrating the skeleton of an ouroboros. The O had made me think of circles and hoops and infinity and that made me think of ouroboros, which handily begins with the letter O, and it instantly became a skeleton in my mind’s eye. An ouroboros – just in case you didn’t know – is a serpent consuming its own tale, an image found in many mythologies, symbolising eternity through the endless cycle of life and death.
There were two lessons last week for Life Book, one taken by Whitney Freya and one by Samie Harding. There was absolutely no way I was going to find time to tackle two different lessons. I thought I would choose to work on the one that appealed most to me but, in actual fact, neither really chimed with me enough to stand out. One was abstract and one was very “art therapy” in its approach and neither of those things really inspires my creativity. I almost decided not to work on Life Book for the second week in a row but then I had an idea: I could combine the lessons. I could use some of the approaches from the abstract lesson to create a background and could use the concept of a totem animal from the other lesson as a jumping off point for the subject matter. Of course, being me, I had to put my own twist on things and – as such – I turned my bear into a silhouette contain a skeleton. You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but I did have a quick google to have a photo reference for the bear’s skull. I actually had a lot of fun creating this painting so I am glad I found the mojo and the time to actually work on Life Book after all.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use a hand on the page. Well pants! I used my hand shapes a few weeks ago in a different journal page. My challenge, therefore, was to come up with a quick, easy, simple idea that neither duplicated or echoed the page I had created before – or any other journal pages where I had used my hand as inspiration. Since the previous page had started with my hand shape and built up from there – using masses of colourful dots – I had the idea of doing the reverse and starting with the hand silhouette and peeling away a layer. Skeleton hand! I have a bit of a thing for (not anatomically correct) skeleton drawings at the moment so I was enthused by the idea.
I had to create a background for my page. Wanting a bit of a macabre feel for the skeleton hand, I opted for a red and green colour scheme, connotations of flesh, blood, putrefaction, and decay. Having so recently had such a sucky result from using my gelli plate, I decided to give it another whirl and see if I could get a better result. This time I used my miniature gelli-plate in the hopes it would provide me with a bit more control over the placement, slow me down a bit, and make me think. I used it to build up a patchwork of red and green rectangles. The red and green looked a bit bogging together but that was, after all, part of the point and the feel I was aiming for.
When it came to the hand, I drew around my own hand and filled it in with black acrylic paint. I used Dylusions paint as I find that black gives a really rich black, smooth, velvety finish which is ideal for drawing on top of. Once that was dry, it was just a case of using a white paint pen to draw in the bones. I had a quick glance at a photo of a skeletal hand but clearly did not make my drawing anatomically correct.
Knowing me as you do, you may not be surprised to see the direction I took this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt. The prompt was “Opening” which could be used in either a literal or metaphorical way or both. I immediately visualised a rib cage opening to reveal a heart.
I used Dylusions black marble paint to coat my page because it creates a really rich black with a lovely smooth finish which is perfect for drawing on with paint pens. The approach I took was the exact same as the one I used to create the Lady Death page in my other current art journal but this time I kept it the doodles much simpler because I wanted to get the whole thing done and dusted within one week’s rations of art time. I think it goes without saying that I did not use any references when illustrating the skeleton. Anatomical accuracy was not remotely going to happen. The rib cage I drew – however short of a few ribs – opens like window shutters to reveal the interior of the body. I knew I wanted to include the heart as a reference to the idea of opening up to someone, thus connecting the literal and metaphorical possibilities of the prompt. Having drawn the heart into the centre of the opening, however, I decided that there was too much empty space. I, therefore, added a pair of lungs. I repeated the pink and red colours elsewhere in the drawing of the skeleton to make the interior and exterior visually coherent.
I had a lot of fun creating this journal page and hope you find it fun to look at.
Continuing with the monochrome black and white theme in my Rainbow themed art journal, I decided to challenge myself to work in white on top of black. I did not have a subject in mind as I loaded the black acrylic on to the pages and actually cannot remember if anything in particular sparked the idea but I decided to draw an illustration of a female Death figure. I opted against using pencil to sketch anything in so I worked directly in paint pen and gel pen to build up the figure, shape by shape, piece by piece. The lack of pencil scaffolding meant that some of my proportions went skew-wiff (the arm on the right is too long) but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of working directly in pen and piecing all of the fragments together into one whole. I did, however, completely use up my broader tipped paint pen so I really put the tools through a work out. It took me a few sessions of drawing to complete it but it was a relaxing activity.
For the penultimate day of Inktober, the Drawlloween prompt was “Skulls and Skeletons” so I decided to draw a skeleton girl. It had been a time since I splashed some red ink into my Inktober sketchbook so I decided to add a sort of silhouette and hair to the skeleton figure for added interest. She reminds me a little of a mixed media piece I did for a Life Book lesson back in May. She was drawn in a bit of a rush and I am confident there is not anatomical accuracy present in my drawing but, on a day that was manically busy, I did still manage to squeeze my Inktober drawing in.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Effy Wild. Her lesson had a more art therapy approach to it than most Life Book lessons but, as always, it was easy to focus simply on the creative techniques and adapt it to be less personal and emotional. I also had to be pragmatic about time so whereas the lesson demonstrated two layers, a flap that moved across a lower layer, I conflated the two layers into one. I like putting my own spin on lessons so I experienced no dilemma in adapting the lesson to such a great extent. The idea had been to have a lower layer that included a lot of handwriting and a concept represented visually by a skeleton and the flap that covered this would be a painting of a fully human figure, the flesh over the bones. In conflating the two layers, my figure became a mixture of human and skeleton. I, therefore, coincidentally worked on two skull faces in one week.
I decided to try out a red and turquoise colour scheme with a bit of grungy magenta over the black background and some metallic blue in the circle. I rather like the combination so can see me deploying that palette again in future.